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BILSINGTON PRIORY

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An Augustinian monastery founded in 1253 by Sir John Mansell, Lord Chief Justice of England. Mansell had the monastic buildings constructed at the manorial centre of Upper Bilsington, endowing the monastery with the surrounding demesne lands. The roughly square, north east-south west aligned moat which lies within the southern part of the monument is believed to represent the pre-existing, moated medieval manor house. Situated towards the eastern edge of the monument, the main monastic buildings were arranged around a square cloister yard. The standing ranges are mainly constructed of originally plastered ragstone rubble, decorated with ashlar dressings topped by clay-tiled roofs. The buildings are thought to represent the southern refectory range, with the abbot's and guest lodgings attached to its south east corner. Historical records indicate that the monastic buildings were constructed in the years between 1253-58. Investigations carried out in 1952 indicate that the other main claustral buildings, including the church, survive as below ground remains. Buried traces of the gatehouse survive in the north east corner of the monument. Two large, irregular fishponds, constructed in the northern part of the monument, and a third smaller pond which reuses the north eastern part of the moat, helped to supply the monastery with fresh fish. The priory was dissolved in 1536 with much of the monastic buildings demolished and the surviving buildings reused as a farmhouse throughout the post medieval period. Scheduled.

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